At the National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis last week, more than 3,000 people from across the United States cheered as Bill Moyers condemned the excesses and failures of big media, warning about “The Orwellian filigree of a public sphere in which language conceals reality, and the pursuit of personal gain and partisan power, is wrapped in rhetoric that turns truth to lies and lies to truth.”
The crowd of media critics, media makers and media reformers rose to their feet to shout their enthusiastic endorsement of Moyers’ call for the creation of new and alternative media outlets that speak truth to power. “We’ve got to get alternative content out there to people, or this country is going to die of too many lies,” said Moyers, as he hailed Amy Goodman and Democracy Now and announced that he will be returning to PBS in April with a new public affairs program.
Here is Moyers’ keynote address from January 12, 2007, the opening day of the conference:
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN ONCE SAID, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.”
“Liberty,” he said, “is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote.”
My fellow lambs — it’s good to be in Memphis and find you well-armed with passion for democracy, readiness for action, and courage for the next round in the fight for a free and independent press in America. I salute the conviction that brought you here. I cherish the spirit that fills this hall, and the camaraderie that we share here.
All too often, the greatest obstacle to reform is the reform movement itself. Factions rise, fences are erected, jealousies mount, and the cause all of us believe in is lost in the shattered fragments of what once was a clear and compelling vision.
Reformers, in fact, often remind me of Baptists. I speak as a Baptist. I know whereof I speak. One of my favorite stories is of the fellow who was about to jump off a bridge, when another fellow ran up to him crying, “Stop, stop, don’t do it.”
The man on the bridge looks down and asks, “Why not?”
“Well, there’s much to live for.”
“Well, your faith. Your religion.”
“Are you religious?”
“Me, too. Christian or Buddhist?”
“Me, too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?”